GM dominates rival automakers in car sales

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General Motors Co. made strong sales gains in the third quarter in a sign the semiconductor shortage is easing, but relief could come for automakers just as consumers are squeezed by rising rates of interest and concerns about the economy.

Recent actions by the Federal Reserve have pushed up auto loan rates as inflation is already hurting consumer confidence, according to Edmunds.com, which forecasts a 0.9% drop in sales in the third quarter from a year ago and a decrease of 2.7% compared to the previous quarter. . Edmunds said auto loan rates hit a three-year high of 5.7% in the three months ended Sept. 30.

That could put automakers in a tough spot even if they can find more chips. The used vehicle market is already softening and there are signs that the new car market may follow. Some automakers are starting to suspend interest rate incentives, and sales to corporate fleets are starting to return.

parker

“There’s a lot of negative consumer sentiment out there, obviously we’re concerned about that,” Hyundai Motor America CEO Randy Parker said during a panel discussion with reporters. “We have noticed that many brands’ inventory levels have started to increase.”

While list prices remain high, price gains are slowing, meaning potential problems for automakers’ ability to maintain high profit margins. New car prices rose 6.3% in September to average more than $45,000, according to JD Power, a slowdown from the 10% growth rate that has prevailed since the start of the year . The seasonally adjusted electricity sales forecast for the month reached 13.6 million units, up 1.5 million units from 2021.

Inventory levels are also rising. Dealerships had 39 days of vehicle supply last month, up 51% from a year ago, according to Cox Automotive. Stellantis NV, owner of the Ram pickup truck brand, said commercial sales to fleet owners jumped 57% from a year ago. Ram and Jeep are among a handful of brands that have increased the use of incentives since the start of the year, according to Cox Automotive.

“We’ve long predicted that if retail demand slows, automakers would have the fleet lever to pull, and it appears they have,” Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Cox Automotive, said in a statement. E-mail.

GM posted a double-digit third-quarter sales gain on improved supply of hard-to-find computer chips, helping it outpace Toyota Motor Corp. of some 30,000 vehicles. Toyota and Stellantis both reported lower sales for the three months ended Sept. 30.

September sales will likely rise 7.7%, reflecting improved inventory from a year ago, according to Cox Automotive.

Many major automakers, including GM, Toyota and Stellantis, reported U.S. sales on Oct. 3 for the latest quarter. Ford Motor Co. is expected to release its sales data Oct. 4, and Tesla Inc., which provides global numbers, announced its results Oct. 2.

GM’s sales have climbed 24% in the past three months to 555,560 units, putting it ahead of Toyota for a second consecutive quarter. It was helped by its ability to secure more semiconductor chips and increase production, the company said in a statement.

Its consumer brand Chevrolet has increased sales by 30% and Cadillac has seen a 50% increase in the past three months. GM said it plans to increase global production of its Chevy Bolt and Bolt EUV from nearly 30,000 vehicles to more than 70,000 units on stronger demand. It slashed the price of the compact electric vehicle by $6,000 earlier this year.

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Although gas prices remain high, GM’s most thirsty vehicles made big gains. The automaker saw sales of its large Chevy Suburban SUV increase by more than 40% and the heavy-duty version of its Silverado pickup increased by nearly 60%. Hummer EV production is still slow, with just 411 sold in the quarter.

Japan’s biggest automaker saw sales fall 7.1% in the third quarter from a year ago, to 526,017 vehicles. Toyota deliveries rose 17.1% in September, but remain down more than 15% for the year. Sales of its best-selling RAV4 crossover utility vehicle soared nearly 51% last month, pushing the Toyota brand’s overall numbers higher.

Toyota’s luxury Lexus line saw sales fall 4.3% in September and are down 16.8% for the year. Deliveries of its best-selling model, the RX SUV, rose less than 1% last month and are down 5.1% so far this year.

Honda Motor Co. saw sales drop 36% in the third quarter, with a 44% drop in deliveries of its luxury Acura line. Still, the automaker says it sees signs of improving inventory, as sales of its best-selling CR-V crossover utility vehicle rose 27% last month and its Ridgeline pickup saw its best September ever, with shipments up 53%.

“The pipeline is strengthening with the expectation that the increase in production in the fourth quarter will support important new model introductions to come, such as the CR-V, CR-V Hybrid and Pilot,” said Mamadou Diallo. , vice president of automotive sales for American. Honda Motor Co. said in a statement.

Stellantis NV sold 385,665 vehicles in the third quarter, down 6% from last year and slightly less than the 388,481 predicted by researcher Cox. The Ram pickup was its best seller overall, followed by the Jeep Wrangler.

The company’s other gas guzzlers, the Dodge Challenger and Charger muscle cars, jumped 17% and 25% respectively after the brand released limited-edition models like a swan song before gas-powered versions of those cars rolled out. be discontinued next year to make way for electrified versions.

Commercial sales to businesses and governments increased, indicating an increased reliance on fleet sales. With gas prices still high, the Jeep Wrangler 4xe Hybrid accounted for 28% of total Wrangler sales in the quarter, the automaker said.

Nissan Motor Co. said third-quarter U.S. sales fell 23% as its namesake brand fell 24% amid chip shortages. The company’s premium Infiniti brand saw a 5.4% increase, the company said in a statement.

The Japanese automaker said sales of its Altima sedan doubled, but its best-selling Rogue crossover SUV was hit hard. Sales of the popular model fell 19% in the quarter to 42,460.

Hyundai sold 184,431 vehicles in the third quarter, up 3% from a year ago, led by the Tucson crossover and the economy Elantra sedan. Hybrids and all-electric models like the Elantra HEV and Ioniq5 have set records, the Korean automaker said. September sales were up 11% year over year.

Hyundai benefited from an onslaught of new models and efficient inventory management amid the chip shortage. The automaker has “a lot of cars in the pipeline for the rest of the year,” Parker, head of Hyundai Motor America, said in a statement.

— Written by David Welch, Gabrielle Coppola and Keith Naughton